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Posted by on Nov 15, 2016 in Fashion, Motherhood | 2 comments

Choosing Compassion in the Midst of Interruptions

Every day when I put my babies down for their nap, I typically go into crazy-over-drive-work-mode. It is my hour (sometimes 2!!) to get as much done as possible. Prepping dinner, folding laundry, mopping the floors, typing up blog posts, editing photos, responding to e-mails…It is my time to do all the things that I usually don’t attempt doing while my children are awake. And sometimes it is my time to just sit and chill the heck out for a minute.

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So, you can probably imagine how annoyed I get when 1 of my children (typically Atlas) refuses to nap and derails my plans. Some days I can totally roll with it, but other days I die a little on the inside when I hear him walking down the stairs and asking, “Hey, Mom! What are you doing? I’m not tired. Can I ride my bike? What are you eating? Can I have a bite? Is Andi Rose awake? Can I go look in her room?”

It’s hard. The other night at dinner, I think my family was half way through with their meals before I took the first bite of mine because every time I went to sit down, someone needed something. I was running back and forth from the kitchen to the table until finally I was all, “GUYS! Mommy is tired! Can I please just sit for the duration of this meal?” Then Andi Rose answered me by throwing her spoon on the ground. *Message received* No rest for the weary.

Last week while I was reading about Jesus miraculously feeding over 5,000 people in John 6, something in that story jumped right off the pages of my Bible and into my heart. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, we learn that just before Jesus performed this miracle, He was actually trying to escape the crowds that had been following Him because He wanted to be alone and rest. Jesus was exhausted. He had been surrounded by swarms of people – and the people were all begging Him to heal their illnesses and answer their endless questions and the more He did for them, the more they wanted from Him and with every lesson He taught them, it seemed as though many of them were still missing the point. I mean, if that doesn’t sound like a day in the life of a mother, I don’t know what does.

I was initially struck by the fact that Jesus needed rest – so badly, that he was actually going to pretty great lengths to seek it out. The Bible says He withdrew by a boat to a remote place to be alone. I can’t count how many times I have said, “I JUST NEED A MINUTE TO MYSELF!” Jesus also needed a quiet minute to Himself every once in a while. I find so much comfort in that – Knowing that my God can relate to me. But in Mark 14, we learn that even in His exhaustion, Jesus didn’t lose sight of his purpose.

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Crowds of people had followed Jesus when they saw him escaping to a remote place by boat. How often do my children do this? I joke to Dave that the quickest way to get my kids’ attention is to sit down and get comfortable or to get in the shower. It is like in that moment they need me more than EVER! It is maddening, so I can’t help but think that this situation was also a bit unnerving for Jesus.

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But the Bible says Jesus felt compassion for the crowds who had followed him. (And I think it is also worth mentioning, that Jesus had a hurting heart during all of this. He was mourning the death of John – one of his dearest friends.) In the midst of his own sadness and fatigue, he still felt compassion for those who so desperately needed him. Jesus took time that day – time that he had set aside for himself – to heal the sick, feed the hungry and teach hurting and curious hearts about God.

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Reading about the compassion Jesus had in his tired moment, convicted me, encouraged me and challenged me. Ever since I read that, I just keep praying that what my kids grow up seeing is a mom who is continually moved with compassion – for them and for others. I’m praying that when my plans get interrupted, I can quickly regroup so that my focus remains on my purpose – and my purpose isn’t to have a clean house or even a great blog right now – my purpose is to serve and lead my children.

I think it is important to note that Jesus did eventually circle back around to His own need for solitude and escape to pray. He recognized His need for rest, prayer and time alone with His Father, which tells me there is nothing wrong with seeking out time to ourselves to get rejuvenated. However, the next time I seek solitude or carve out time for myself and instead am met with an interruption, I’m choosing to view the situation, not as a setback, but as a signal from God that He has work for me to do (which I know, is so much easier said than done).

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I’m sure most moms can agree that we go through life feeling constantly interrupted – we rarely finish a meal, a chore, a thought or a sentence – but what if we view those interruptions as opportunities for Christ to work through us and in us? How different would our responses be to those interruptions? What if we paused and allowed compassion to move us and drive our actions? How different would the outcome be?

And on a similar note, when my kids interrupt my plans I also remind myself that one day I’ll be the one interrupting them. They will be grown with lives all their own and I’ll be old and all but forgotten, and I’ll call them telling them they need to come pick me up right away because I’ve got an emergency. And then when they arrive at my door, I’ll be dressed in my fur coat wearing my bright red lipstick with my walker in hand telling them that I’m all ready for a day at Nordstrom’s and then on the ride there I will tell them about all the times I dropped everything because they had an ’emergency.’ (I’m seriously laughing out loud picturing this scenario as I type it – Poor Atlas and Andi Rose – they will have to deal with Old Lady Ashley one day and I suspect Old Lady Ashley will be a real handful.)

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Cozy Sweater // White Tank (closet staple) // Leggings // Holiday Mug

And on that note, this post is being interrupted by the sound of tiny feet running down the stairs to find me….

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Posted by on Oct 27, 2016 in Baby Andi, Fashion, Girly Things | 2 comments

Preppy in Polka Dots

Atlas has been fighting his nap every single day this week. Our week is flying by, but I’m struggling to keep up with some things since I’m spending a good portion of nap time putting Atlas back in his bed. Right about the time he finally gives in and falls asleep, Andi Rose is waking up from her nap, so he doesn’t nap that long, which is good and bad. It’s good because by then, it is later in the day so I don’t want him napping long because it messes up his nighttime sleep. It is bad because it makes him a cranky bear the rest of the evening though. He is really such a great kid and I feel fortunate that in a lot of ways he is so incredibly ‘easy’ lately, but he goes through these spurts where he gets super stubborn and as a result it can feel like some days are just a series of battles. Luckily, that isn’t our norm and I’m pretty sure his stubborn streaks are age-related and he’s just testing his limits, which I have to remind myself daily is completely healthy. Anyways, his thing this week is getting out of his bed 56 times at nap time and bed time. Just keeping it real.

In other news, my matching obsession with Andi Rose is still going strong.

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I fell in love with this polka dot sweater on Boden’s website the minute I saw it and then when I saw this dress at Baby Gap for Andi Rose, I just knew it was meant to be.

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The sweaters on Boden’s website right now are so adorable. If you haven’t shopped there, I recommend checking them out. There shipping is super fast too, which is great. I totally fell in love with this sweater online, but my love was solidified when it arrived and I tried it on. It is so ridiculously comfortable! It’s the perfect mom sweatshirt and I absolutely love that I feel like I’m wearing a sweatshirt, but I still can look a little preppy and put together.

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Polka Dot Sweater // White Pants // Pink Hunter Boots //

On Andi Rose: Dress is Baby Gap, but I can’t find it online (similar here & here) // Red Boots // Pink Bow by Little Lady Shop

Other Boden Sweaters that I think are super cute are linked here, here & here! And check out their kid’s clothes too, if you’re a mama! Gah! Seriously – SO cute!

And on that note, I’m off to read books with Atlas. He isn’t napping today so I’m just rolling with it. His punishment for not napping is that he can’t play right now – he has to sit and read books with me. *Insert evil laugh here* #momster

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Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Marriage, Motherhood, Serious Stuff | 0 comments

Living with Purpose when the Pages of Your Planner are Full

I love a good to-do list. I’m task-oriented and I love checking things off the pages of my planner as I go throughout my day. But sometimes my to-do list actually keeps me from doing the things that really matter.

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Last week in my Bible Study lecture, the speaker said this…

“When we forget our identity, our life becomes all about tasks and fails to be about purpose.” 

Those words really convicted me because all too often, I find myself preoccupied with tasks and as a result, distracted from my purpose. Let me paint you a little picture of what this looks like for me:

Atlas will come ask me if I will play ball with him and I’ll tell him I can’t right now because I’m folding the laundry. Then later he will ask me again, and I’ll say, “In a minute, I’m prepping dinner.” And then that night I tell him we can play tomorrow and I go to bed feeling like I accomplished a lot on my to-do list, but I missed so many God-given opportunities in the process.

Sometimes, my identity can get lost while I’m switching out all the different hats I wear everyday. Since I serve as the mom, the chef, the maid, the dog walker and the doer-of-all-the-laundry I like to refer to myself as the COO of our family. It is my job to ensure things in our house run smoothly. But that’s my job…not my purpose.

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The reality is, anybody could do my job. Sometimes I actually think a monkey could probably do the job better than me. But my purpose is unique, and consequently far more important. I feel like my purpose is to point my children to Jesus. While I can try my hardest to ensure things in our house run smoothly, there’s no way I can ensure life will run smoothly for Atlas & Andi Rose. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee them the opposite. Life is filled with bumps, accidents and pitfalls and while my job today is to protect my children, my purpose is to prepare them for the sometimes bumpy rollercoaster that is called ‘life.’ If I teach my kids to look both ways before walking out into the street, I’ve done a part of my job. However, if I teach them to walk in truth, I’m fulfilling part of my purpose. But if I’m going to teach my kids those kind of lessons then I’ve got to be connected with them and I’m realizing that those connections take root when I slow down long enough to spend time with my children. But time spent playing ball with Atlas isn’t something I typically pencil in the calendar, which is absurd because shouldn’t I be strategic about making time for the things that align with my purpose?

When I think about the culture we live in, I would venture to say most of us are blinded by busyness. Between the pages of our crazy calendars and being saturated with social media, we rarely get a free minute to think about our purpose. Time isn’t free anymore. I’m never going to be given a free minute. I must intentionally carve out free time if I wish to have it. But it is in that free time where I find I’m more empathetic to my children and to the needs of other people around me – because that’s when I have time to consider my purpose.

I think this concept also applies to my role as a wife. My job is to care for my husband and the home he provides us. My purpose is to love him well, bring him good, cherish his heart and build a legacy with him for our children. But I can get so preoccupied with doing his laundry and washing his dishes that I forget my bigger purpose requires me to leave dirty dishes in the sink sometimes and just sit with him and lend him my ear after he’s had a long day.

I hope this post encourages you, just like the lecture in my Bible Study last week encouraged me. My OCD heart is so satisfied going to bed at night when I feel like I’ve accomplished all the things, but my soul is satisfied only when I feel like I’ve accomplished the most important things…and I have to remind myself daily that those ‘things’ aren’t always written in the pages of my planner.

***

Outfit Details

This is for those of you who are like, “Um, I don’t even have kids and who the heck still writes in a planner when you have an i-phone…I just wanted to know where your scarf was from.” I got you too, girl. 😉

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Sweater via Shop Dress Up// Blanket Scarf (mine is from last year, but the one I linked looks almost identical) // White Pants (can’t stop wearing these because they are SO comfy) // Booties are old, but similar ones are here and here //Clutch

Happy Hump Day, Friends!

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Posted by on Oct 5, 2016 in Baby Atlas, Motherhood | 6 comments

Happy Birthday, Atlas

I’m sitting here thinking, ‘How can it be?’

How is my baby boy already three?

Atlas' Birth

I’ll never forget the moment I first laid eyes on you,

It was love at first sight (kind of like you and Boo Boo).

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With each passing day, my love for you grew and grew,

I’ll always cherish those memories we made on 5th avenue.

It was with you that I had the biggest adventure in NYC,

But then it was time to head south so you could taste sweet tea.

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You take every change we throw at you with such great stride,

Watching the little man you are makes me beam with pride.

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There’s nothing you love more than Boo Boo the Bear,

If Andi Rose even thinks of touching him, you give her the death glare.

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When you’re not holding Boo Boo, you’re playing some kind of ball,

I’m pretty sure this makes your dad the happiest man of all.

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Recently you tried to use one my fancy glasses as a golf tee,

Your dad thought this was hilarious – but not me.

If you don’t make it as a golfer, you could definitely be an actor,

Or perhaps you’ll be a farmer and ride a green tractor.

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No matter what you decide, just know I’ll be proud.

I’ll embarrass you at whatever you do by cheering too loud.

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You’re {slowly} becoming the best big brother to baby Andi Rose,

(We won’t mention that time you made blood come out of her nose.)

Sweet Siblings

You are Ob’s favorite playmate and friend,

Even though ya’ll fight in ways I can’t comprehend.

Because of you, Marley gets a lot more food,

No doubt about it – you’re his favorite dude.

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You are your daddy’s joy and answer to prayer,

At the end of his workday, you are his breath of fresh air.

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Every night before bed, you tell me “I love you more.”

It is one of the many things you do that I absolutely adore.

But when you say that, you have no idea that it isn’t true.

You don’t know that 100 hearts couldn’t hold all the love I have for you.

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You are the sunshine in each of my days,

I wish I could keep you this age for always.

I don’t know why God gave you to me, but I’m so glad He did.

I lucked out because you are the most wonderful little kid.

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I think my favorite thing about you is your tender heart,

You are sensitive to others and incredibly smart.

This world needed an Atlas and I did too,

Up until 3 years ago, what I was missing was you.

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So with that, I guess there’s just 1 thing left to say,

Atlas, I hope you have the happiest birthday!

And remember, whether you’re 3, 10 or 32,

You’ll always be my Atlas and my buddy-roo!

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Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in Motherhood, Serious Stuff | 1 comment

Pep Talks from Atlas + A Random Funny Story

 

Dave has been out of town this week, so it’s been harder than usual to find time to blog. I’ve also had a few things weighing heavy on my heart this week and to be 100% transparent, I sat down to blog several times over the course of the week and each time the tears just started flowing and I opted out of writing.

I’m feeling better today, thanks to a pep talk from Atlas. Yesterday, I was crying and Atlas saw me and hugged me and said, “I’m sorry you’re sad, Mommy. You are Atlas Andrews and Andrews choose to be happy and Andrews are good to people.” I think it is funny that he repeated what I say to him so many times a day when he is crying or throwing a fit or refusing to share with Andi Rose and I think it is even funnier that he didn’t swap out his name for my name. He’s so great.

Anyways, I have to share a funny story with you: While at our Bible study this week, I was talking with one of the girls there about Dave being out of town & we were discussing how we actually keep it together just fine while the men are away & she said, “I always feel like things go smoothly & then 4 hours before my husband arrives home everything falls apart.” THAT totally happened to me. I juggled both kids & both dogs fine (I mean, I say ‘fine’ – I washed my hair once while he was gone & Atlas went to bed at midnight one night, so…you know…), but as Dave was pulling into our neighborhood Andi had a blowout diaper & was suddenly covered in a diaper rash (happens every time she gets a new tooth) & Atlas was mad because we had to go inside to clean Andi Rose up, so I told him he could wait on the porch, which I think concerned one of our neighbors when he walked by & saw Atlas swinging alone on the porch swing (I could see/hear the whole thing from the window inside as I was cleaning Andi up). Meanwhile, I’m rushing to change Andi so I can get back to Atlas & Andi is screaming & then Dave gets home right at that minute & I’ve got poop all over my shirt & I’m sweating & the neighbor is looking at Dave like, “Thank God you’re home because your toddler was outside unattended” and all I could think was, “Daaang. I totally had this until about 6 minutes ago.” Ugh.

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Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Motherhood | 0 comments

Why I Refuse to Count

Before I ever had kids, I had a lot of opinions about how to properly raise well-behaved and civilized children. Since giving birth to 2 babies in less than 2 years, I’ve let go of a lot of those opinions and now I tend to subscribe to the, “There’s more than 1 way to skin a cat” theory. There’s a million different ways to parent and I don’t think we can label most techniques as ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ For the most part, I believe we are all doing the best we can and we are all trying to find what works for us and our little people.

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Most of the things I said I would ‘never’ (ever ever ever) do, I do (Raising my voice at my kids and letting them ‘cry it out’ are just 2 things that come to mind). And so many of the things that I said I would ‘always‘ do, I actually only do sometimes, now that I’m living in the reality of motherhood and not in the world of  “This is what I would do if I were a mother.”

However, there is 1 thing I said I would never do and much to my surprise, I’ve stuck to it thus far in my parenting journey. I remember talking to one of my good friends about how I would never count to 3 for my kids. We were discussing the fact that so many parents today count for their kids and how our parents never counted for us. They told us to do something, we did it or we didn’t, and we either got rewarded or reprimanded immediately. Wham, bam, Thank you, M’am style.

This is what I’m talking about…

Mother: “Hey, give that toy to your brother.”

Child: clutches toy tighter and delivers death glare…

Mother: “You better give that toy to him right.now.”

Child: Takes a step back and prepares for a stand-off.

Mother: “One….twwwwo….twwwwo and a quarter…two and a haaaalf…you better not let me say 3 or you’re getting a spankin'”

Child: Throws toy at sibling and runs away crying.

You’ve seen this happen, right? Maybe you are a counter. I’m not judging you. You do what works for you and your child, but here’s why I won’t count.

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My child doesn’t need to be conditioned to wait until the count of 3 to obey me. They need to be trained to obey immediately. It is my personal belief, that delayed obedience is a form of disobedience. I want Atlas & Andi Rose to respect authority and not live life pushing the limits, because they won’t be happy with that lifestyle. It also isn’t safe. If I see that they are in a dangerous situation and I need them to come to me right now, I don’t want to have to count to 3 before they know I’m serious. I don’t want them to be the kind of people who grow up and when their college professor says, “The paper is due on Monday at midnight” they interpret that as, “Well, that probably means Wednesday by noon.” Dave is a college professor and he is continually met with students who don’t abide by deadlines. I believe their parents my have been habitual counters.

I would be lying to you if I said I haven’t been tempted to count before because in the moment, it sometimes seems like the easier thing to do. Counting takes less effort than disciplining if the child will come before the count of 3. But I realize that on the times I’ve been tempted to count for Atlas, it hasn’t been because I wish to extend 3 seconds of grace to him but because I’m hoping he will save me the ‘trouble’ of stopping what I’m doing to discipline him for his disobedience. It’s really just laziness on my part. But that laziness on my part, would only be making more work for me later. I would be sacrificing long term goals on the altar of immediate gratification. I discipline him now, so that *hopefully* one day in the future he knows when I say “come here” I mean it and when I say “stop” that means right.this.second.

I’m by no means saying if you count for your kids, you’re a bad parent and you’re doing it all wrong. It may work for you and your child. You may genuinely be extending grace to them because you have a heart of gold. There are many days where I, personally, feel like I’m doing it all wrong so I’m certainly not judging anybody. However, I have stuck to my guns on my ‘no counting’ rule – if anything because I don’t have the energy to count that many times a day – and I just thought it would make for an interesting blog topic.

I also really just wanted to share this photo of Atlas shooting a bird….

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While I don’t count, Atlas is obsessed with counting everything and whenever he uses his fingers to count, he will use his middle finger to represent the number 1. I always crack up because he has no idea what that finger represents and he is so innocent when he holds it up and says, “I just want 1 more M&M & then that be it.” Kids are so great.

So, now it’s your turn to chime in on the conversation. Did your parents count for you? Are you a counter? What are some things you said you would never ever do as a mom that you totally do now? #safezone up in here so everyone play nice! 😉

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